The Cowboys’ offense got a taste of life without Amari Cooper in their 19-9 Week 11 loss to the Chiefs. It wasn’t pretty.
Dallas’ passing game sputtered as Cooper missed the game following a positive COVID-19 test. Dak Prescott racked up just 216 passing yards while throwing two interceptions. His wide receivers caught just 13 passes for 105 yards during the game, and production waned after CeeDee Lamb exited the game with a concussion.
Cooper’s presence surely could have helped the Cowboys. However, the receiver — who is unvaccinated — was ruled out for Week 11 and Week 12 because of his positive test.
NFL POWER RANKINGS: Cowboys slip after loss vs. Chiefs
A reporter asked Prescott after the game how much Cooper’s absence — which came “in part because of a decision he made,” in the words of the reporter — hurt the Cowboys. Prescott chose to defend his teammate.
“I mean, yeah it’s unfortunate not having him,” Prescott told reporters, per USA TODAY Sports. “But to say ‘the decision he made,’ I mean me (being) vaccinated, I could get out and be out two games. So let’s not try to knock the guy or put the guy down for a personal decision.”
The reporter pointed out that the protocols for vaccinated players to return to action are less stringent than those that unvaccinated players face. However, Prescott explained that if he tested positive as a vaccinated player, he would likely miss at least two games, like Cooper.
“I pretty much would (be),” Prescott said. “You give me the number of people who have flashed back vaccinated or unvaccinated in that time and tested out.”
Unvaccinated players, like Cooper, are automatically out of action for a minimum of 10 days under the NFL’s current COVID protocols. That’s why he has already been ruled out for the Cowboys’ Thanksgiving Day game.
Meanwhile, vaccinated players are eligible to return after two negative COVID tests that occur at least 24 hours apart. A recent example of this would be Ben Roethlisberger, who was able to play for the Steelers in Week 11 despite testing positive for COVID on the Saturday before Week 10. He was out of action for about eight days.
So, while a vaccinated player can be in danger of missing multiple games, it is easier for them to return to the field.
Regardless, Prescott wanted to make it clear that he and the Cowboys support Cooper’s decision.
“That’s my teammate, that’s my brother, we’re going to support him,” Prescott said. “That’s his decision, as I said way back in training camp when you guys asked me this question. So yeah, unfortunate we’re not having him but I know he’ll come back and be beneficial for us in the late part of the season.”
Prescott also sees Cooper’s absence as an “opportunity” for him to develop chemistry with other members of his receiving corps.
“It’s just an opportunity for other guys to step up,” Prescott said. “I mean, it’s challenging when you’re missing a guy like Amari who’s such a playmaker and dynamic. But we’ve got to be able to go out there and win without him.”
Dalton Schultz led the team with six catches and 53 yards against the Chiefs while Michael Gallup and Cedrick Wilson combined for 17 targets. They all figure to play major roles on Thanksgiving with Cooper definitely out and Lamb likely being unavailable as well.